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Placenta. 2002 Apr;23(4):288-93.

Localization of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF kappa B) and inhibitory factor-kappa B (I kappa B) in human fetal membranes and decidua at term and preterm delivery.

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  • 1Division of Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


The human fetal membranes and decidua are thought to be involved in the onset of human parturition. These tissues produce and respond to various cytokines, which may be involved in preterm labour and possibly term labour. They also show increasing production of prostaglandins (PGs) with advancing gestation and labour. The expression of PGHS-2, a rate limiting enzyme in PG synthesis, is increased in the fetal membranes at labour. The gene for PGHS-2 and many of the cytokine genes (e.g. TNFalpha, IL-1, IL-6) are stimulated by the transcription factor NF kappa B. This factor is composed of two subunits, p50 and p65, which are localized in the cytoplasm bound to I kappa B. When activated I kappa B is metabolized, and p50, p65 translocate to the nucleus to activate various genes. The purpose of the present study was to examine the tissue and cellular distribution of p65 and I kappa B in the human fetal membranes and decidua throughout gestation. Term tissues were obtained prior to labour by elective caesarean section (n=10) or following vaginal delivery (n=10) and 10 preterm tissues were obtained following labour prior to 37 weeks gestation. None of the tissues had any evidence of infection. The immunoreactive NF kappa B and I kappa B were localized in the tissues. p65 protein was found in the nucleus and cytoplasm of cells in the amnion, chorion laeve and decidua. In the amnion and chorion laeve, no changes occurred in subcellular localization with advancing gestation or term labour. However, in the decidua, there was a marked increase in the nuclear localization of i.r. p 65 in tissues obtained at term when compared with tissues delivered preterm. In the case of I kappa B, it was localized to the cytoplasm of cells in all tissues and there was an increase i.r. I kappa B in decidua at term compared to preterm but no change occurred in the amnion or chorion. The increase in nuclear localization of p65 in the decidua that occurs with advancing gestation, highlights the potential importance of this factor in the regulation of parturition related genes in this tissue.

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